Death by a thousand cuts: Trump's budget will destroy social safety net

Trump's "New Foundation for American Greatness" would take hundreds of billions from important social programs

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 23, 2017 8:56AM (EDT)

President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Israel Museum, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Jerusalem.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Israel Museum, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's new budget proposal for 2018 calls for massive spending cuts in social safety net programs and medical research.

Dubbed "A New Foundation for American Greatness," the Trump budget would cut within the course of the next decade $800 billion from Medicaid, $272 billion from welfare programs overall, and $192 billion from nutrition assistance programs, according to a report by The New York Times. Domestic programs not related to military and homeland security would see $57 billion in cuts, while the budget allocates $1.6 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and an additional $1 billion for other forms of border security. It would also cut disability benefits by $72 billion and entirely do away with college education loan programs, as well as loans for individuals who work in government or the nonprofit sector.

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Trump's budget would increase military spending by 10 percent while dropping domestic spending (again, outside of military and homeland security) by 10.6 percent. It would also take notable chunks out of medical research spending, including cuts of $1 billion from the National Cancer Institute, $838 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and $575 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, according to a report by The Washington Post. Overall the National Institutes of Health budget would shrink by $5.8 billion, from $31.8 billion to $26 billion.

The budget doesn't touch Medicare or Social Security benefits for the elderly, which is consistent with Trump's campaign promises.

While Trump's draconian proposed cuts may be chilling, it is unlikely that all of them will go through Congress. As Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters about the proposed Medicaid cuts, "I just think it's the prerogative of Congress to make those decisions in consultation with the president. But almost every president's budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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